Grand Canyon story from '83 - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-14-2013   #1
Boulder, Colorado
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Grand Canyon story from '83

I once read a story from a compilation of river or GC stories about a guide getting thrashed in Crystal back when the GC flooded back in '83 (?). The story, if I remember correctly, was about a guide who told his clients they had to walk Crystal because the river was at something like 80,000cfs (?) and clearly far too dangerous to run with them. Well one of the clients became pretty belligerent about being denied the run and that fucked up the guide's mental state and he was pretty out of sorts by the time he convinced the client he had to walk. The guide had a bad line and a horrendous swim and barely escaped the experience with his life. Anyone know the story I'm talking about and what book it's in?

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Old 07-15-2013   #2
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Tabernash, Colorado
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If it's a short story collection, it's probably from Christa Sadler's "There's this River". It's been a while since I read it, but the story sounds familiar. Another great book about the crazy summer of 1983 is "The Emerald Mile" - it just came out a few months ago, and, it is an awsome read!
"I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead." - Jimmy Buffett
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Old 07-15-2013   #3
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I second The Emerald Mile! I just read it and didn't want it to end. Lots of great history and personalities.

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Old 07-15-2013   #4
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Bend, Oregon
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X3 on The Emerald Mile

About 1/3 way through and savoring the read.

I've read the story you're talking about. I have two different whitewater short story compilations, and my guess is that it is in either one or both of these two:

The Liquid Locomotive

Class V Chronicles

Both can be found on Amazon and are fun books to take along on multi-day trips.
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Old 07-15-2013   #5
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I just perused through both Liquid Locomotive and Class Five Chronicles and did not see the story there. I may have missed it but I didn't see it. Didn't see it in The Armchair Paddler either.
We are here on Earth to do good for others. What the others are here for, I don't know. W.H. Auden
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Old 07-15-2013   #6
Park City, Utah
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The Emerald Mile.....Fantastic book! One of the few I'll buy. I just finished it and want to read it again.
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Old 07-20-2013   #7
Portland, Oregon
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I floated the river in that summer with my family. I was 15 years old. We flipped in Crystal Rapids and were hauled out by helicopter.

We were on a boat guided by Cross Tours if I remember correctly. Our 30+ pontoon raft flipped end over end. One scary afternoon. I can elaborate if you want, I can remember a good deal of it. My mom actually made a book of it for our family about 10 years ago. Brought back some rough memories.

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Old 07-21-2013   #8
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Old 07-22-2013   #9
Portland, Oregon
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This is rather lengthy. So, I broke it up.


Besides myself, I was with my mother, father, and sister. At 15 years of age and living in the midwest, our only white water experience was in a canoe down rivers rated a 1 or possible a 2.

It was a 6 day trip on one of those big ugly motorized pontoon boats of 30' or so. Two guides per boat, two boats in our group. There was a warning sign at Lee's Ferry about high water. That meant nothing to us. We had never done this sort of thing before. And besides, the company would of cancelled the trip if it were unusually dangerous. Wouldn't they? (I believe they actually shut the river down not long after we started in)

The water was high. Entire beaches were gone, some rapids were washed out completely, while others were intensified. If this gives you any idea, the water was so high that Redwall Cavern was almost completely submerged.

Even though the water was high and rapids were different, the guides rarely stopped to scout. Upon reflection, this seemed very irresponsible. I remember the guides discussing Crystal before going in. Although the left side of the river was riddled with insane waves/holes, the guides thought that as long as we stayed river right, all would be fine.

We were the second boat through. I never found out what happened, but that first boat was sucked to the left.

I remember riding through the waves and thinking this was easily the biggest water we had encountered on the trip. As a kid, I classified white water in the GC as two types. The roller coaster type where you just ride up and down huge waves, and the more rough, splashy type with a more jolting experience. This was both. The waves were enormous, and the ride was wet. The volume of water hitting us was intense. It started out fun, but quickly got scary as there were several waves that stood our boat on end then pummeled us with enough water that it was hard to hold on. Each wave seemed to get bigger. I could hear our guides yelling to each other. They were discussing something. I just didn't know what.

What I didn't know at the time, but found out later.

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Old 07-22-2013   #10
Golden, Colorado
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If you haven't seen this video from already from 1983, its gives a good idea what that stuff looked like.

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